Las Vegas, we have a chance to bury a bad idea under the blizzard of criticism it deserves.
Here’s how: By answering Clark County’s call for public comment on its plan to build an elevated expressway from McCarran International Airport to the Koval Lane/Paradise Road corridor east of Las Vegas Boulevard.
The county is accepting comments through Aug. 18 via email at [email protected] and through a form it has placed on its website.
So since county officials are asking for the public’s opinion about this proposal, which is so terrible it inspired a Facebook page called Stop the McCarran Elevated Expressway, let’s give it to them.
At the same time, the Sun would invite local residents to share their comments not only with the county but with the entire community by sending them to us. For those who choose to email their comments to the county, feel free to cc the message to [email protected] For those who choose to comment via the online form, we invite you to send a duplicate copy to us by either scanning it and emailing it to us or sending it by mail to Greenspun Media Group Newsroom, 2275 Corporate Circle, Henderson, NV 89074.
We’ll publish selected comments online and in an upcoming edition of the Sun print publication. (Please note, we’re not interested in receiving anyone’s address or email address, just their name, their city and a telephone number where we can reach them for confirmation. This is the same information we request for letters to the editor.)
We’d strongly encourage local residents to make their views known, because the expressway proposal would be a huge step backward for Las Vegas transportation.
Expressways are a failed relic from a bygone age, as has been proven in several cities worldwide that have either torn them down or are in the process of doing so. They create DMZ-like dead zones where businesses and residents move out, paving the way for urban decay and crime. They also run counter to modern transportation and planning goals of making cities more attractive and accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists and urban dwellers through development of sidewalks, bike lanes and green spaces.
Worst of all, the plan isn’t the solution to traffic congestion on and around the Las Vegas Strip. The reason: Traffic would continue to bottle up at each end of the expressway — McCarran and the Strip.
So the real fix isn’t a road on pedestals, it’s to reduce the number of cars on the streets by developing light rail, bus rapid transit or perhaps even autonomous shuttles connecting McCarran to the Strip. The Regional Transportation Commission is examining all of those options through a long-range planning process, and Nevada lawmakers approved enabling legislation for such transportation development during the 2017 session.
Meanwhile, the expressway threatens to consume funding — at least $200 million — that would better be spent on projects that would actually work.
The project needs to go away. While other travel destinations like Orlando, Fla., Denver and Phoenix are developing light-rail systems that are making it easier and more convenient for tourists to get around, it would be counterproductive and embarrassing for Clark County to revert to an archaic approach from the 1950s and 1960s. It would be like addressing an inadequacy in our fiber-optics network by recommending an investment in rotary phones and land lines.
So, Las Vegas, let’s tell the county to dump the expressway. This is our chance to make a statement for the future of our community.